You can’t shoot a drone, so what can you do if it invades your privacy?

The verdict of the first known lawsuit involving the use of a firearm against a civilian’s unmanned aerial vehicle – UAV, or, as most refer to it, drone – was made public this week, potentially setting a precedent for these kinds of cases. It looks like you pretty much can’t shoot somebody else’s drone out of the sky in public.

Motherboard spoke with Eric Joe, the owner of the hexacopter that his neighbor shot down with a shotgun last November. Now that the details of the case are available, it seems like a pretty open-and-shut case. The drone was still flying over Joe’s family’s property when his neighbor shot it down, and the neighbor admitted both in person and via email to having shot the drone down, but declined to pay what Joe claimed the damage was worth. The judge ruled in favor of Joe and awarded him $ 850 in damages, and while the Motherboard article says criminal charges are still pending, it warns that the FAA’s official definition of drones as “aircraft” means that shooting at one could, technically speaking, mean a maximum penalty of a 20-year prison sentence. An attorney with a law firm that Motherboard says “has more experience in drone law than anyone else in the country” said that this case might set a legal precedent going forward:

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Network World Colin Neagle